Ralph Potts reviews the fourth and final season that closes out this compelling and entertaining cable TV series that charts the continuing twists and turns that follow Lucas Hood (Antony Starr), an ex-convict who improbably assumes the identity of sheriff of the rural, Amish-area town of Banshee, Pa.
Studio and Year:
The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Cinemax (Distributed by HBO) - 2016
Feature running time:
English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, German/French DTS 5.1, Spanish Stereo
English SDH, French, Spanish, German, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish
Antony Starr, Ivana Milicevic, Ulrich Thomsen, Frankie Faison, Hoon Lee, Matt Servitto, Lili Simmons, Trieste Kelly Dunn, Rus Blackwell, Matthew Rauch, Ryann Shane, Geno Segers, Tom Pelphrey
Blu-ray Disc release Date:
October 4, 2016
"It Only Ends One Way"
For those reading that aren't familiar with Banshee I will start off with a bit of background:
Season one of Banshee begins with a bizarre twist of fate as a recently paroled master thief assumes the identity of Lucas Hood, sheriff-in-waiting of Banshee, Pa., the same town where his former partner and lover Carrie relocated and remarried 15 years ago. Keeping his history a secret as he awaits forged papers from an old associate, Lucas befriends boxer-turned-bartender Sugar Bates and settles into his new life. Itching for the thrill of thievery and yearning for Carrie, Lucas inadvertently gets tangled up in the rampant corruption of shunned Amish gangster Kai Proctor while keeping a vigilant eye out for Mr. Rabbit, the New York mob boss who wants revenge against Lucas and Carrie for the jewel heist that landed Lucas in prison.
Banshee is an original primetime drama from Cinemax and the first to be wholly created in-house with Emmy and Oscar winner Alan Ball as executive producer, along with Greg Yaitanes, Peter Macdissi, Jonathan Tropper and David Schickler. The series stars Antony Starr as Lucas, Ivana Milicevic as Carrie, Ulrich Thomsen as Proctor, an intimidating, wealthy local businessman who believes he is above the law; Frankie Faison as Sugar Bates, Rus Blackwell as Gulf War hero Gordon Hopewell, Banshee's district attorney and Carrie's husband, Ryann Shane as Deva, Carrie's rebellious daughter, and Hoon Lee as Job, a dangerous transvestite computer hacker who assists Lucas in his criminal enterprises.
Conceptually speaking I find Banshee
rewarding. Lucas Hood is drawn as a complex character whose initial motivation strictly lies in survival and reconnecting with his former lady love and partner whom he took the fall for 15 years earlier by allowing himself to be captured by the police thereby facilitating her escape (with the proceeds of their recent score). Lucas saw opportunity in assuming the identity of the sheriff but strictly as a means to an end. What he didn’t expect was his adoption of the people in Banshee as well as the discovery that he had a knack for his new “job”. His particular skill set along with an approach that would be deemed overtly unorthodox for a town sheriff makes for an interesting mix that places him in a rotating love/hate relationship with his staff as well as in the crosshairs of the local crime boss, Kai Proctor who makes for a worthy adversary who makes no bones about his agenda or willingness to squash those that may stand in his way.
Along with Lucas and Kai are a cache of characters that coincide with the show’s wonderfully infused subplots that revolve around them. Carrie, who came to Banshee to escape her past and has successfully done so by changing her identity, marrying local prosecutor Gordon Hopewell and raising their two children. With Lucas’s arrival Carrie became fearful that his presence not only jeopardizes her secret but also threatens to bring a very dangerous element from their shared past down on top of them. The man known only as "Rabbit", a Ukrainian mobster with unfinished business with Carrie/Lucas who will stop at nothing to find them and settle old scores. Rebecca, a young Amish woman that seeks to shed the confines of her sheltered life in Banshee by maintaining ties to Kai. Lastly, Sugar and Job, two very different men each of who find themselves constantly entrenched in pulling Lucas from the fire of whatever situation he has ignited.
The final season takes place two years after Lucas gave up his badge after a bloody, multimillion-dollar heist at the Camp Genoa Marine Base which proved costly: Carrie's husband Gordon was killed, and Lucas's longtime computer-hacker partner, Job, was abducted by a shady criminal ring. After settling a score with a "recruiter" from Lucas's past whom he hoped would have intel on Job, Lucas went on a bender before being rescued by an unlikely savior, Proctor's niece. Emerging from a self-imposed exile, Lucas returns to Banshee to find it a changed town. Brock Lotus is now sheriff, Kai Proctor is the mayor, and the old "Cadi" police station has been replaced by a state-of the-art facility. A new deputy with ties to Proctor, Nina Cruz, has joined Brock's team, along with Kurt Bunker, the skinhead-turned-deputy who continues to make amends for his dark past while fighting the racist overtures of the group led by his younger brother Calvin. After reuniting with Carrie, their daughter Deva, and ex-boxer Sugar Bates, Lucas becomes immersed in a new Banshee crisis: rooting out a vicious serial murderer whose latest victim is someone near and dear to his heart.
fourth and final season was all that I expected as it maintained its visceral edge, heightened suspense and rewarding action. The chickens come home to roost in excellent and typical Banshee fashion as old scores are settled and the unanswered questions are sorted out. For the last four season we have enjoyed the show’s thematic narrative which is underscored by violence, sex and content that is strictly aimed at adult audiences. Going out while still at the height of its popularity proved the show has the chops to rank among the best hours on cable TV. The writing is excellent as is the direction although at times the story’s elements flirt with nonsensical fillers that can occasionally be cause for eye rolling. Be that as it may the characters are well drawn, easy to care about and are perfectly nestled in the show’s unfolding and escalating events that build toward the gratifying finale.
I find the characters of Lucas and Kai to be the driving force behind what has made Banshee
tick and Antony Starr and Ulrich Thomsen are simply spot on in their portrayal. There is plenty of action, passion, struggles for power and hidden/revealed secrets that you may or may not see coming. The plot isn’t of the mind bending or riveting variety however this is an engaging and fun series that eschews melodrama in favor of take it or leave it storytelling. As with the past three seasons I watched the entire season with my wife. We had a great time with it and are sorry to see it go.
Banshee: The Complete Fourth Season
’s 8 episodes are spread over three BD-50 Blu-ray discs with the bonus content found on discs 1, 5, and 8.
The show contains violence, language, sexual content, nudity and strong thematic material.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency effects:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialog Reproduction:
- Low frequency extension * (non-rated element): NA
- DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element):
Banshee: The Complete Fourth Season comes to Blu-ray Disc from HBO Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 36 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.8 Mbps.
- Black Level/Shadow Detail:
- Color Reproduction:
This 1.78:1 framed video presentation offers appreciable high definition resolution that has a satisfying glossy aesthetic. Images are stable and sharp with plenty of discernible texture and revealing fine detail during close-ups. Many of the show’s sequences are shot in uneven and low lighting. Shadow delineation and depth is quite good. Blacks are deep while exhibiting appreciable dynamic range with stable yet slightly elevated contrast that never infringes upon fidelity. Colors are snappy and bright and sullen and muted where appropriate. Fleshtones appear descriptive with variable depth that brings out the finest gradations in the differing complexional types among the cast.
The DTS-HD MA soundtrack features crystal clear dialog, robust dynamics and a subtle, yet enriching surround sound mix. I was pleased with its use of spatial dimension and directional cues to create an apropos and occasionally immersive sound field. This worked hand in hand with show’s music, and active sequences to build tension and drive its thematic elements. I thought it sounded quite good.
- (HD) Episode Recaps
- (HD) Deleted Scenes
- (HD) Zoomed In, Episodes 1-8: Go on the set with the cast to see how key, adrenaline filled scenes were created
- (HD) Banshee Origins: Find out the story before the story with eight prequel videos featuring the cast of Banshee
- (HD) Job’s Best Outfits – 2 minute featurette
- (HD) Favorite Fights – 5 minute featurette
- (HD) Audio Commentary: Episode 8 “Requiem”
- Digital HD Copy
is an engaging television series that is rife with simmering subplots, well drawn characters, visceral action and adult themes. The Complete Fourth and Final Season comes to Blu-ray from HBO featuring excellent high definition audio/video quality and a fair supplemental package that includes Blu-ray exclusive content, a glimpse behind the scenes, a worthwhile commentary track and a series of fan friendly origin stories. Banshee: The Complete Fourth Season
comes highly recommended, as does the entire series, especially if you enjoy gritty, hard edged programming.
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews
Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV8802A 13.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103D Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player
Samsung UBD-K8500 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" and In-Ceiling series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SVS PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
SVS SB-13 Ultra (Piano finish)
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package